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Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

At the end of our work day on Friday, a large group of the children gathered together to sing us several songs. It had been a very physical day of digging and cleaning but ended with this and a couple of hours playing with the kids.

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Two Words: We're Home

I’m too tired to craft a post right now but will later tonight. Anita shot some great video of some children singing songs for us. If you closed your eyes, you would have no idea who these children were or the harshness their personal stories represent. Even if you open your eyes and watch the video, you’ll still see children filled with joy because they are under the tutelage of their children’s home directors, a man and his wife who love Jesus Christ and have been called to help these children figure out their role in this world.

I would ask all of you to remember and pray for the children of Monterrey, the children that are in homes working with Todd and Beth Guckenberger of Back2Back Ministries. The enemy is on the prowl and would love to snatch one of these little ones from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

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Before we took the children to the park, we accomplished quite a bit of work. Often times we’re not able to see the big picture of what projects are completed at each children’s home but today we were able to see exactly what was accomplished. Not exactly the “big” picture but certainly we saw some projects get completed.

  • Completed the painting of the Comedor
  • Made three lounge chairs, and waterproofed them all
  • Painted the ceilings on several of the kids’ dorm rooms
  • Cleaned up trash around the campus
  • Painted the outdoor kitchen
  • Filled in a drainage ditch with concrete so the metal grate that has been puncturing tires could be removed
  • Finished putting nets on the soccer goals

Here are some random photos from half-day of work:

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Picture 198Picture 172Yesterday, we finished up our projects at Casa Hogar Douglass and then had the afternoon to take about 35 of the children to a local state park, Chipinque (sp?), high up in the Sierra Madre mountains on the northwest side of Monterrey.

Each of us  took a “buddy” for the afternoon and our family hung out with two little boys: one who looked to be about eight and the other 13 (photo at right). The older boy apparently had just arrived at the children’s home fairly recently and looked as though he didn’t have a lot of friends yet, and was a little shy. Now I realize he likely wasn’t shy, but was still reeling from the reality that his little world had dramatically changed – that he potentially had been dropped off there with his siblings, that his mother could no longer take care of him. He and his siblings potentially didn’t even know what was happening until their mother was gone. This happens every day in Mexico and breaks my heart as I look at my own children and yet I have no understanding of the difficult choices these mothers face every single day: take care of my children and starve or go to work to we can eat, marry this man who can provide or keep my children.

One the drive up to the park, the kids started out having a great time but as time wore on many of them fell asleep. My 13-year-old boy (John, I’ll call him), just sat staring out the windows at the tall buildings, the boxing gym we passed, car Picture 177dealerships. I wondered what he was thinking. Was he reminded of his father when he saw the boxing gym? Did he imagine himself ever working in one of those tall buildings? So many thoughts and we could only partially communicate with each other.

Picture 175 Once we arrived at the park, he began to warm up but even there he just wanted to sit, even when all the kids were playing on the slides. Todd gave me a little of his family background and it all became real for me. We sat next to each other in the shadow of the huge mountain and I just prayed for him, for his future, for the incredible wounds he must have and that he would eventually know of and accept the love of Jesus Christ.

Our debriefing last night included lots of pictures of each person’s child and funny things they had done. It’s one thing to play with the kids for an hour or two at the children’s home, quite another to get some freedom from the institution and enjoy God’s creation together.

Here are some photos of our outing:

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Picture 133 Was I created to do more than I am allowing in my life? What about you? Were you created to do more in your life than you are allowing? If not, what’s getting your way? Is there a door just waiting for you to walk through? That’s a big part of what we talked about this week.

Hill Country Bible Church has now taken three groups of people to serve the children of Monterrey and a significant number of people have asked that same question of themselves. I’ve seen first-hand the power of God’s Word to bring to life how each of us can bring something to care for the fatherless, the forgotten, the orphans of the world. In tonight’s debrief, Beth mentioned some of God’s promises to the fatherless: to vindicate them; to rescue them; to deliver them and not leave them; to be their father; to provide for them; to love them; to execute justice on their behalf and many, many more.

We were God’s hands to do many of these things this week. The question all of us will wrestle with as we return home is this: was this just a mountain-top experience or will we continue to seek opportunities to care for the fatherless. We’ll also consider if we’re fulfilling God’s plans for our life.

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As I said in one of my earlier posts, one of my favorite parts of each day is the debriefing session we do each night to reflect on the day. While B2B does a great job in pouring the resources we provide (labor, passions, gift and others) into the different children’s homes they come alongside, an element of where they stand out from other mission organizations, at least in my mind, is the way in which they minister to each person that comes down here. The amount of time and detail they give to personal reflection, group debriefing and quiet time alone with the Lord allows each of us to process what we’ve seen each day and also to reflect on what God is calling each of us to do.

One of the things Anita and I have been wrestling with recently is what it looks like for the American church to live out James 1:27, caring for widows and orphans in their distress. And as a trip by Fields of Grace, what does everyone come away from this trip thinking or doing about that verse? Is everyone called to adopt? Is everyone called to go into the Rio and start a church? Is everyone called to become foster parents children? I don’t think so but many of us are and that’s what we’re hoping to begin to stir in everyone’s hearts that are with us this week’.

Here are some random comments from last night’s debriefing session with Beth. The question, again, was what picture comes to mind from the day of working and playing in the Rio.

  • playing cars with the kids, we couldn’t understand each other but still had fun
  • playing soccer with the kids
  • kids receiving the clothing items and being thankful for what they got
  • walking down through the Rio holding hands with the various kids
  • the sights, smells and sounds of the utter poverty of the Rio
  • running out of our supplies, thinking of the faith the apostles must have had when they fed the 5,000
  • mixing the cement with the older gentlemen at the Rio
  • all the trash by the Rio and the strength of the kids to live in that environment
  • the attitudes of the kids, playful and energetic
  • the kids playing in the garbage of the Rio
  • walking to the Rio, why are people born into situations like this
  • the contrast of the beauty of the church and the drug dealing house less than 100 feet away

Here are some answers to questions Beth got after we shared our pictures from the day:

  • After they sort though the garbage for anything of value, they then burn what’s remaining along the river to get rid of it
  • The kids without parents find safe kids’ homes to stay with. Yes, it’s illegal but the police have bigger issues to deal with than a child not having a home to live in.
  • For water, the homes use water capture bins to catch rainwater to use to wash clothes, brush their teeth – or they go to the polluted river to do that stuff. But they don’t get much rain here.
  • The biggest issue for the children and mothers who live along the river is the parasites they get from drinking the water. B2B is working on a clean water project with an organization from Houston.
  • Eighty percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product is held by eleven large families

I’ll post more photos of the day later this morning. Today, we’re going to Casa Hogar Douglass, a children’s home about half a mile from B2B.

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Today, we traveled to the farthest northwest side of Monterrey to serve those living in extreme poverty in a squatter’s village. In Mexico, the government does not provide for these individuals and families but they do allow them to live on government land, which is typically along the rivers. The church that is on the very edge of Escoveda serves hot meals for the children every Saturday.

Before we left B2B this morning, we divided up the 25,000 children’s vitamins into packets with 30, or roughly a month’s supply. Today, we’ll work alongside to prepare a hot meal of tacos to feed the kids before they head off to school for the afternoon. Many of the kids in this area don’t go to school because they have to walk about an hour each way to get there. We’re leaving now so I’ll get back on later tonight to finish this up.

9:05pm – we just returned home from our day at the Rio and it was obvious during tonight’s debriefing that everyone was significantly impacted. We had planned on demolishing a large concrete wall to expand the church building but when we got there some others had already completed it. As a result, there was a little less physical work to be done though some of the guys poured some concrete footings, others used the jack hammer on the concrete roof to bust away an old staircase and others hauled dirt to fill an area that will eventually be the floor.

As soon as we got to the church, we immediately fed the kids a hot meal of tacos and hot sauce so they could eat before they began their long trek to school. Once those kids were gone, many stayed behind (though they were school age) and hung out in the Rio neighborhood.

We were all struck by the utter poverty of the whole area, the massive size of the area and as one person put it during our debrief, the full sensory overload of it. The images, the smells, the people, the texture of the entire area screamed out.

Words can’t fully or adequately describe what we saw today, but perhaps some of these pictures will. The first photos are of the garbage that permeates this area. The final three shows the beauty of God’s created beings who, for some reason, were placed to live in this area of the world. I have no idea why it was them and not us, but God has a plan. It’s easy to think that we are better off than they, and in many ways we are, but ultimately perhaps because they have a very real, almost tangible faith, perhaps they look at us in the same way, running around with our fancy cameras taking pictures, in our “fancy” clothes. Good night.

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